Category Archives: Linebackers

20

July

2014 Packers ILB Position – Last Year’s Safety?

Brad Jones and AJ Hawk

Brad Jones and AJ Hawk

Won’t be long now! We can stop speculating on all things Packers in a few long days from now.  This offseason has been very good, talent has been added in Peppers and Guion for Defensive line.

There is a ton of talent heading into their second year. Baktiari, Boyd, Lacy, Jones, Hyde, Barrington, Palmer, Mulumba and White all earned playing time last year.  Every NFL coach and GM will tell you the biggest jump is going into that second year.

You add the players returning from injury in Bulaga, Sherrod, Matthews, Tretter, Worthy and getting players that were just banged up for most of the year like the Jones, both Datone and Brad were hampered with injuries, Perry played on a broken foot. These returning players account for five first round picks a second and a 4th. Not having those players on the field hurt the Packers in 2013 and will add a big boost for 2014.

You add another draft class to increase competition and this camp will be fun to watch.

I have heard more about the Packers not drafting an Inside Linebacker then about getting the best all around safety in the draft. From a lot of comments through out the Packer world, many think the defense is doomed because of not getting an ILB.  I am not one of those.

Safety was a bigger need, Changing the lineup of the Defensive line was a bigger need, Wide Receiver was a bigger need. When you are one injury away from Miles White being your #3 WR, it is a big need.

The situation at ILB is far from bad or will even be a hindrance to the 2014 defense. I have never understood the crap piled on Hawk for his eight years with the team. In 2013 Hawk became the Packers All Time Leading Tackler. When you look at the history of the Packers that is no small feat. That record stood for 24 years and that player took 11 years to do it.  He again lead the team in tackles last year, had 5 sacks and one Int with 5 passes defensed. He has missed 2 games in 8 years and yet so many just plain hate him.

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9

June

Xs and Os: The Three-Deep Zone Defense (Cover 3)

The cover 3 pass defense has the cornerbacks and free safety splitting the deep half into thirds.

The cover 3 pass defense has the cornerbacks and free safety splitting the deep half into thirds.

Continuing with our series of defensive coverage shells, this week we’ll take a closer look at the three-deep zone defense, which is more commonly known as the cover 3.

Previously, we looked at the cover 1 and cover 2 defenses.

Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers predominantly prefers the single-high safety look, but he has deployed the cover 2 shell frequently over the years.

However, the Packers don’t use the cover 3 all that often, but it’s a defense that every NFL team must have in their arsenal because what it brings to the table.

Of course, this article comes with my standard disclaimer that this is an oversimplification for illustrative purposes only.

Cover 3 Defense Defined

When defending the field, the defense usually divides the area vertically into “halves.” The underneath half typically extends 7 yards from the line of scrimmage and the deep half usually extends 15-20 from the line of scrimmage.

In the three-deep zone defense (cover 3), the free safety and both cornerbacks play zone defense and each guard a third of the deep half. They must cover any receiver entering their respective third of the field and drive towards to the ball once it is in the air. Additionally, they must carry the receivers vertically all the way to the goal line.

The GIF below highlights the assignments.

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Strengths of Cover 3

There is no perfect defense in football. If the defense sells out to stop the run, they are extremely vulnerable to the pass. Likewise, setting up a strong back end to guard the pass makes them susceptible to the pass.

The cover 3 is a compromise defense of sorts. Because the deep third is covered by the free safety and both cornerbacks, the strong safety is free to align in the box.

This means the defense can play eight in the box to stop the run. The front seven (defensive line and linebackers) are in the box in addition to the strong safety.

In a nutshell, the cover 3 allows the defense the flexibility. It can be considered a “jack of all trades” defense. It is a very popular run defense, with pass flex, in the NFL because it allows the defense to pack eight in the box and still drop seven into zone pass coverage.

30

April

Lattimore Signs Tender

Packers Linebacker Jamari Lattimore

Lattimore will return to the Packers in 2014

According to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, linebacker Jamari Lattimore has signed his contract tender, which is good for one year, and will remain with the Green Bay Packers in 2014.

Lattimore stands to make $1.4 million this season, up from the $561,000 he earned in 2013.  The Packers ultimately decided that it was too risky to let Lattimore become an unrestricted free agent and chose to place the original round tender on him earlier this spring.

By doing so, the Packers at least assured themselves the ability to match any offer sheet that Lattimore might have signed with another team.  No offers for Lattimore were reported and had he signed elsewhere with the Packers not matching the deal, they would have received no compensation for him because he was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011.

Lattimore stepped in adequately for a stretch at inside linebacker when starter Brad Jones suffered an injury early during the 2013 season.  Lattimore recorded 35 tackles and two sacks in 15 games.

He was also said to be one of the players who stepped forward and spoke to the team during halftime of the Packers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys last season.  Down 26-3 at the half, the Packers went on to beat the Cowboys behind backup quarterback Matt Flynn.  It proved to be a vital late-season win and it helped enable the Packers to edge out the Chicago Bears for the NFC North division title.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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28

April

Best “Not First Round” Inside Linebacker Prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft

LSU Linebacker Lamin Barrow - NFL Draft

LSU Linebacker Lamin Barrow

We have watched for an number of years the Packer defense letting TE’s just do to much. To go with all the Safety talk or middle of the defense problems, inside linebacker has been sorry to say this, bitched about since Hawk was drafted. I am not Hawk hater and I think Jones having been banged up most of last season has sown doubt about him after being given a nice contract. But saying that, Jones made plays in 2012 and some in 2013 when he was healthy, that Bishop and Hawk could never make. Is he the answer? I can’t say he is or isn’t, but the position can and should be upgraded.

Barrington is a possibility, but I would still like to see some competition added.  If someone like Mosley happens to be there at #21 and I was turning in the card there would be smoke coming off my shoes to turn in the selection.  I like Shazier also as a ILB in the 3-4. And both are worthy of the #21 pick.

There are some good linebackers in this draft.  OLB’s that can play ILB and some ILB’s that can play some OLB. I like College OLB’s for the 3-4 ILB spot. They have to have range, quickness and as with the Safeties, got to be able to cover. As I mentioned about the safeties a LB being able to play both ILB and OLB in the 3-4 is big plus in the Capers defense.

So lets take a look at a few and see what you think.

Lamin Barrow 6-1 237#  ILB LSU  Another three down ILB. Good speed and quickness, good agility and instincts. One thing that stood out to me is his ability to shed blockers.  4th pick or later pick.

Howard Jones  6-3 235# OLB/ILB/DE  Shepard.  Developmental linebacker, I think he can be used as a ILB with development, but could rush the passer day one and play special teams.

Watch this one TT is mentioned. here’s his combine workout video. Another late 5th type.

Avery Williamson  6-1 246# ILB/OLB  Kentucky.   I like how he plays, reads quickly and moves, good quickness. Can read and move with a TE pretty well. Good player for one of the 5th round picks, But I think he will go earlier.

21

April

Lattimore Remains Unsigned

Jamari Lattimore

Lattimore remains unsigned on the eve of Packers team workouts

According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN, Green Bay Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore remains unsigned one day before the Packers will begin offseason workouts.  Without being signed, Lattimore won’t be permitted to join his teammates.

The Packers were not expected to tender Lattimore following the 2013 season, thereby making him an unrestricted free agent.  Instead in early March, the Packers did designate the original round tender on Lattimore.

Under the original round terms, Lattimore can sign an offer sheet with another team.  The Packers then have an opportunity to match those terms and keep Lattimore.  If they do not match another offer sheet, Green Bay would receive no compensation from the receiving team because Lattimore was originally an undrafted free agent back in 2011.

The current offer is for one year and $1.431 million for the 2014 season.

Lattimore filled in last season when starting inside linebacker Brad Jones was forced out with a hamstring injury.  In limited time, Lattimore was adequate and appeared to be making a case for more playing time.  After the 2013 season, there will still talk about whether Lattimore might push for a starting spot in 2014.

With the draft just over two weeks away and with much chatter about what the Packers could do to address the linebacker position, Lattimore’s unresolved contract will continue to hamper his prospects of moving up the depth chart.

In many instances and as former Packers Vice President Andrew Brandt has often said, deadlines spur action.  With the Packers starting to gather tomorrow, this could very well be a non-story soon.

 

 

 

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

Follow Jason at:

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16

April

Matthews Still Recovering From Injury

Clay Matthews

Matthews says he will be ready for training camp. The Packers hope he’s right.

A recent conversation between Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and USA Today’s Tom Pelissero revealed that Matthews is still not 100% healed from a repeat thumb injury suffered late in the 2013 season.  ESPN’s Rob Demovsky featured the conversation in a recent article at ESPN.com.

Matthews explained, in more detail, what happened with each injury and how doctors chose to address the second break in December.  Here is an excerpt:

“And unfortunately, on a sack of Roethlisberger, the tip of my thumb [hit] my teammate’s helmet. All that pressure went down the cast, broke it again. So then, to make it tighter, we took part of the tendon, turned it around, drilled some holes and they almost tied a knot through. It’s stronger than [the left one]. Now it’s super tight.”

The Packers defense is just not the same without Matthews on the field.  Since appearing in at least 15 games in his first three seasons, Matthews has missed 11 games over the past two years, including last season’s wild card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.  Had the Packers advanced and made a serious push for a Super Bowl appearance, Matthews may have returned and played.

It still bears mentioning that a player who plays with the type of intensity as Matthews does is likely to be more vulnerable to injury.  Although Matthews says he will be ready by training camp, everyone heals differently.  The thumb can be a tricky injury with all of the bones and tendons connected to both the hand, wrist and arm.

Matthews should be able to make a return but even if he does and based on averages, he will likely miss some time this upcoming season for whatever reason.  The Packers need to prepare accordingly at the outside linebacker position.  With a healthy Matthews and Nick Perry, the possibilities are many and scary for opposing offenses.  But the “healthy” part has not come easy in the two seasons that tandem has existed.  They have appeared together in just 14 games over those two years.

3

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Shayne Skov

 

Shayne Skov

LB Shayne Skov

Packers prospect profile:  LB  Shayne Skov

Player Information:

Shayne Skov  LB, Stanford,  6-2, 245 pounds  Hometown: Guadalajara, Mexico

STATS

NFL Combine:

Did not participate in Combine and to date, has not participated in any pre-draft drills

News and Notes:

Started nine games as a true freshman in 2009. . .led Stanford in tackles in 2010. . .lost the 2011 season to an ACL injury. . .was instrumental in Stanford’s run to the PAC-12 title and Rose Bowl run in 2013. . .2013 All PAC-12 first-team. . .very upbeat and vocal leader

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Ideal size and temperament for the inside linebacker position. Possesses broad shoulders, a trim middle and thick lower-body. Terrific instincts and physicality. A tone-setter in the middle, who frequently made big plays at key moments for the Cardinal. Demonstrated more explosiveness in 2013, in his second season removed from a torn ACL. Explodes through holes in the offensive line to make emphatic tackles in the backfield. Aggresive in taking on and shedding blockers in the hole. Displayed greater patience in 2013 when breaking down with ball-carriers in the open field because he has regained his explosive closing ability. This has led to less lunging by Skov and more secure textbook tackling. Likely limited to inside linebacker duties in a 3-4 alignment due to the fact that he does not possess ideal speed to beat backs to the edge, nor the fluidity for extensive coverage responsibilities. Working to break a bad habit of lunging. Over-aggression caused Skov to take himself out of too many plays early in his career.
  • NFL.com:  Outstanding instincts and recognition — plays much faster than he clocks on a stopwatch. Goes full throttle and plays very hard. Times up the blitz extremely well. Explosive tackler. Alert in coverage.  Intense emotional leader. Has a love for the game and it shows. Ideal special-teams temperament.  Marginal foot speed — limited twitch and agility to adjust to movement in coverage and could be exposed by NFL backs and tight ends. Can play with too much abandon and recklessly miss some tackles flying to the ball (out of control). Long-term durability is a concern — has already had multiple knee surgeries.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel